Mourinho Starts the Mind Games with Wenger as Chelsea Prepare to Face Arsenal
No sooner were we introduced to one new managerial rivalry in the Premier League than we'll be reacquainted with another this week when Chelsea travel to Emirates Stadium for their Capital One Cup clash with Arsenal.
Jose Mourinho was busy upsetting Manchester City's Manuel Pellegrini with his touchline antics on Sunday, to the point the Chilean decided against shaking hands come the final whistle because he "didn't want to."
And just over 48 hours after Chelsea's 2-1 victory, it will be Arsene Wenger's turn to meet the challenge of the Portuguese.
It's been six years since Wenger and Mourinho last locked horns in a 1-1 draw that saw Chelsea lose their grip on the Premier League trophy to Manchester United.
Chelsea had battled back from 1-0 down with 10 men after Khalid Boulahrouz had seen red, but the game is remembered more for Mourinho's chin-up gesture at the final whistle as he applauded Blues fans and requested that they help keep his players' spirits high.
Much has changed since then, but one thing remains certain: There will be no love lost when Mourinho and Wenger come face to face.
The pair endured a tumultuous relationship in Mourinho's first three seasons in England. Chelsea's manager accused Wenger of being a voyeur and rarely missed an opportunity to remind the Frenchman of his superiority, having never lost against him in eight matches.
Wenger himself had a few comebacks of his own, referring to Mourinho as being stupid.
"When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid," Wenger once said (h/t The Telegraph).
If any fans were hoping that time may have healed old wounds, they will be disappointed.
|Dec. 12, 2004||Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea||Premier League|
|Apr. 20, 2005||Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal||Premier League|
|Aug. 7, 2005||Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal||Community Shield|
|Aug. 21, 2005||Chelsea 1-0 Arsenal||Premier League|
|Dec. 18, 2005||Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea||Premier League|
|Dec. 10, 2006||Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal||Premier League|
|Feb. 25, 2007||Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal||League Cup Final|
|May 6, 2007||Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea||Premier League|
Mourinho was as mischievous as ever when discussing the prospect of facing the Gunners, even joking with The Telegraph that Arsenal require assistance from The Football League to end their nine-year wait for a trophy.
If they want Arsenal to win a trophy, [playing the game on Tuesday is] a help.
We're going to give the game that the people who put the game on Tuesday wants. If they want a big game, we cannot give the big game. If they want the players that were playing [against Man City], we cannot give them that.
If they want a big game between two big teams in London, they should put the game on Wednesday and not on Tuesday because I am not going to do that [put out my strongest team].
On the face of it, Mourinho has a valid point given that Arsenal played against Crystal Palace a day earlier than the Blues' clash with City, meaning they have extra time to rest and prepare.
Make no mistake, though, his rhetoric isn't aimed at The Football League or any perceived conspiracy.
Who will win at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday?
Like during his first spell in charge, Mourinho will be targeting the Capital One Cup to reinvigorate that winning feeling in his players and will be desperate to defeat Arsenal at all costs. By reminding Wenger of his so-called advantage, he's hoping the Arsenal manager and his players will feel the pressure a little more.
"We have no problems," Mourinho said of their relationship, although he did suggest things could change at any moment. "Unless you tell me he had some influence on this [the fixture schedule]," he joked.
That's where the humor will end for Chelsea, though. Winning trophies is no laughing matter, especially for a man of Mourinho's standing.
The Portuguese has already reasserted his authority in the press room. Now for the business of getting one over on Wenger where it matters most.
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes.
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